Author Archive for Dennis Th


Should you ever work for free?

If you’re working in a creative field, the current debate over unpaid interns will be giving you a major case of deja vu: creatives are asked to work for free all the time. Web designers are asked to build or revamp sites in exchange for expenses; illustrators are urged to contribute their best ideas in exchange for exposure; and writers are asked to write in the hope that one day, they might get paid for it.

To some, working for free is a necessary evil in creative industries. To others, it’s just evil.

So who’s right? Should you ever work for free?

The short answer is “umm, it depends”.

Who’s asking?

Not all free work is the same: there’s a big difference between helping out a local charity and working for a commercial organisation who’s paying everybody else but you. The people who’ll give you the opportunity to work for free tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Friends and family
  • Charities
  • Firms offering work experience and/or internships
  • People who’ll be first against the wall when the revolution comes

On the face of it, you’d need to be pretty hard-hearted to refuse to help out a friend or a family member, but that depends on the job: knocking up a flyer or a quick WordPress installation is one thing; designing a whole corporate identity or creating an entire ecommerce platform is something else entirely.

If you’re considering offering a helping hand, make sure you’re not being taken advantage of – a friend’s business is still a business, and pays all its other suppliers. Why not you? – and make sure that you’re not clambering merrily into the Bottomless Pit Of “Come To Think Of It, Could You Also…” Make sure everybody knows in advance exactly what you’ll be doing and how long you’ll be doing it for.

Charities are another apparent no-brainer. Everybody loves charities! But once again, things aren’t quite as simple as they might appear. Your local Save Our Hospital or We Hate Tesco group is almost certainly flat broke and would appreciate your help, but some of the bigger charities are enormous organisations that can afford to pay enormous sums of money to design agencies, web agencies, marketing firms and so on. If you’re given the opportunity to work for free by one of those agencies, find out whether they’re charging the charity. If they are, you should be getting paid too.

Work experience and internships can be an excellent way of learning new skills, getting an insight into your chosen industry or just packing your portfolio with new and interesting work. Which is just as well, because you’ll be lucky to be paid more than expenses.

The trick to assessing such opportunities is to ask, “what’s in it for me?” – so for example a three-month internship where “you’ll gain practical experience in the creation of 3D scenes and other visualisation tools” is a nice wee opportunity to move beyond making demos and into a real-world environment; an internship where the firm wants a Creative Suite guru with design flair to spend nine months doing all their design work for free may be taking the mickey.

The last kind of employer, the people who’ll be first against the wall when the revolution comes, is easy to spot. Their job adverts ask for an astonishing range of skills and experience, they’re often brand new new media businesses, and they can’t afford to pay you right now but promise valuable exposure. They’ll often promise that if you stick with them long enough, you’ll get your reward in riches and unicorns. They’re lying. The only rewards you’ll get are offers of more free work. Try offering that to your landlord instead of rent.

And that’s the fundamental problem with working for free. Graphic designers, 3D modellers, web designers and writers don’t live in magical space palaces where things like rent, council tax and the whole eating-so-you-don’t-die thing don’t matter. As a result, it’s essential that any free work you do is actually going to benefit you, either karmically – by doing a favour for a cause you believe in – or by making you more employable. If you’re unsure whether an offer is either, Jessica Hische has a wonderful flowchart for you.

Image by TheAleiness GiselaGiardino on Flickr []. Some rights reserved.


Combining Tree and OOP technologies…

I would like to introduce the tree technology in object oriented programming. I named OOPTree. Almost every application in current days is developed on object oriented programming (OOP) language model. The OOP is one of the most important innovations on computer programming (only the developers know it).

With this message I would like to encourage you to work with Trees! Tree technology is very much older that OOP. I have managed to combine the Tree technology with the OOP technology and the result it is fantastic.

The fundamental idea is simple: “an object may have its own kind as its children”. The results are a very fast response, even in small devices like pda, supports powerful structure that can cover every strange or fictional analysis scenario.

Of course there some things in which you have to write a lot of code, like storing the tree structure to rdbms database vi recursion methods, because till now there is no database that supports tree representation of data by default. Everyone is invited to talk about this OOPTree technology I found… it functions in several of my projects and I will be very happy to read your thoughts.

Dennis Theot


Google launches online magazine

In typically enigmatic style, Google launches website, calls it “a book” and downplays whole affair

Google has unveiled a quarterly online publication that’s intended to help people “take time out and consider what’s happening and why it matters”.

The first issue of Think Quarterly is about data and how its power can be harnessed for business purposes. It contains in-depth articles from luminaries such as data expert Hans Rosling and Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google. It’s a hefty read.

The articles can be viewed in a familiar web-based format, or set out in print magazine form via a beautiful, full-screen Flash viewer provided by Issuu.

Think Quarterly was designed, commissioned and edited by creative agency The Church of London. Founder Danny Miller told us: “In designing Think Quarterly we focused on making something really beautiful, unique and fresh using great photography and great illustration. We’ve commissioned amazing illustrators such as Geoff McFetridge and Adrian Johnson, and we’ve got fantastic photographers like Spencer Murphy. We’re bringing really high quality photography and illustration to what is essentially a business publication.”

Although the site is available to everyone for free, interestingly, Google tells us that it’s intended primarily as a print publication for their clients and partners. A select group of around 1500 will receive hard copies today, and the company says there are no plans to sell it. There is a mobile version of the site at

Rob Mills, studio manager at gave us his take on it:

“As someone who much prefers reading physical copies of magazine and books, I was pretty smitten with the online version of Think Quarterly. Firstly, the content was of interest to me which is a must for anything to hold my attention but it is also a lovely magazine to look at with a great design and attention to detail. It certainly made me want to read on and I’ll look forward to future issues.”


/Big Mouth/ You 2.0

Google may have our search history, but who has our psyche? Gary Marshall investigates the truth behind our online identities

If I wanted to rule the world, I wouldn’t bother assembling a terrifying arsenal of nuclear weapons, or building a robot army. I’d be in the software business – and specifically, the communications software business. I’d be in email clients and web-based Twitter services; social network status updaters and word processors. While each program would be different, they’d all have one feature in common: whenever the user hit Delete or Cancel, the program would send me a copy of the document, message or @reply before zapping it.

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/Interview/ The brains behind : Dead Drops

Berlin-based artist Aram Bartholl has been embedding USB sticks in walls in New York to create an offline filesharing network, with the locations of the “dead drops” posted online. Tanya Combrinck finds out why

.net: What made you decide to do this?

AB: It evolved from a series of projects. I find it very interesting to mix up the digital world and the physical world, and I have undertaken a couple of other urban interventions where I placed objects from the digital space in the street. This project has this “spy” theme, so it’s about hidden treasures and things like that. I’m interested in the vision of people holding their laptops to a wall and embedding data literally in the wall, in concrete. We are living in a time of super-connectivity, and I like the idea of breaking it down to a more simple way of connecting. I like this idea of infiltrating the city itself with data.

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/CSS/ Style an HTML data table

London-based web designer Inayaili de León explains how to create an HTML data table using clean and semantic markup

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/Big Question/ Patently absurd

Given the renewed debate following Paul Allen’s actions – and its impact on innovation – is it time to abolish the patent system?

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